THIS IS US

Of all the haunting remnants of the past year, the one I can’t shake is my daughter’s eerily real doll

Image courtesy of the author

We were falling deep into our pandemic winter, and after the better part of a year of fully online or hybrid school, my daughter’s noneducational hours had become dominated by additional screen time so that I could keep working. She transformed into a third-grader with a casual online “window shopping” habit and a growing obsession with Reborn Babies, strangely realistic, silicone baby dolls.

I wasn’t sure how I’d survived the better part of the year as a freelance writer in shutdown with a throbbing ball of stress growing and contracting somewhere over my heart, my nervous stomach. …


To spark imagination, we need the newness of other places

I’m on my final flight home after a reporting trip to Mississippi.

Relying on the closest airport to my reporting destination there left me crisscrossing on a flat, northern Alabama state route, with nothing but a single turn after an hour spent alone in a clean rental car, skipping between various signals for the same handful of country and “Today’s Hits!” radio stations.

There’s a vast openness to the drive here, the trip itself organized with large gaps on my calendar reserved for hunting down documents or trying to get so-and-so to talk to me.

I was never a frequent…


The writer who coined ‘Xennial’ on the attempts to describe this unique cohort

Photo: Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

It’s strange, having a public but evidently forgettable claim to fame. Like being the Guinness Book of World Records holder for longest pinkie nail or voicing a one-hit wonder limited to local radio. Yet over the last month, my social media pinged repeatedly with people insisting I get credit for describing the cusp of us at the inflection point between Gen X and millennial, Xennials.

Four years ago, that’s all I’d wanted.

Truth be told, this batch of tweeters seemed mostly angry that someone had the temerity to describe our cohort of Xennials as “geriatric.” A story on Medium rocketed…


The sitcom about a girl band redux hits the perfect notes for our time

Photo: Peacock/Contributor/Getty Images

During my morning machine run a few weeks ago, with my workout-distraction show streaming on my phone, I felt my pace slow. The main character was brutally attacked and raped. Again.

After the year of strain, death and fear we’ve all just lived, I long for joy. When I’m in the midst of writing multiple stories about sexual abuse and spending my workday absorbing stories of trauma, I need a break, an escape.

Here enter Girls5Eva, a Peacock original filled with Tina Fey-paced dialogue (minus some of her takes that have not aged well), plus stars who make one another…


On covering trauma in a grin-and-bear-it industry that I just can’t quit

Photo: Heath Korvola/Getty Images

My Twitter feed is a strange amalgam of journalists, professors, theologians, pastors, deconstructing evangelicals, and church abuse survivors. I’m at this unique nexus where I see the exhaustion of reporters who have been charging to the frontlines for over a year now trying to understand Covid-19, absorbing devastating illness and death, the resilience and heartbreak of medical professionals, all while doing their best to get each detail of their own medical coverage right because to mess up could mean the difference between life or death for someone else.

I see pastors who have tried to hold their churches together virtually…


Protection against illness and death should be enough to convince people to roll up their sleeves. But since it isn’t, let’s bring on the gimmicks.

Credit: Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images

“You can’t win if you don’t play!”

“Odds are, you’ll have fun!”

These are slogans I knew growing up, along with a 7:30 pm prohibition on any child-made sound as the Ohio Pick-3 aired on TV. My dad would strategize, consult tattered books listing previous winning numbers, carefully choose his number combination, and lay out a dollar or two he’d almost always lose. But he won enough to keep him interested, betting his luck might change.

There’s a certain brilliance in Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s “Vax-a-Million” announcement. Over the next five weeks, each week a $1 million dollar winner will…


The family’s recent response to his child pornography charges only underscores how complementarianism elevates men over the vulnerable, leaving women to deal with the fallout

Josh Duggar’s mug shot, Washington County Arkansas

This week Josh Duggar appeared in court on child pornography charges. Duggar became a public figure after starring in the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, which was canceled in 2015 after news surfaced that, as a teen, Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a family friend.

At the child pornography hearing, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent described the more than 200 images said to have been downloaded on Duggar’s devices in May 2019. They depicted sexual abuse of children ages 18 months to 12 years old. …


When my physical voice failed, I had to learn that I deserve to be heard

Photo: We Are/Getty Images

The voice box is a pink, slick mass through which air blows. It’s an alien with a toothless smile. When its folds, the vocal cords, work properly, they press together as we speak, mirroring humming lips. Air slips through the cords. They quake and can vibrate up to 1,000 times per second. That rattled air becomes voice.

I lost my voice at 15. I sounded like a boy hitting puberty, as my inflections became an unpredictable mash of breaks and warbles. …


In her new book ‘The Making of Biblical Womanhood,’ history professor Beth Allison Barr reveals centuries of women that modern leaders keep trying to erase

I was seventeen years old in 1997 and thought I might be receiving a call to the ministry. The places I felt safest were in prayer, head bowed over my Bible, or in church, considering this precious, complicated world as a gift and thanking the God who I thought gave it to us.

I even had a good role model, a witty, vibrant associate pastor who told stories that wove together her gentle humor and a faith I saw as beautiful. But as I began exploring what Christian faith might look like, I expanded out away from her curious, humble…


Local officials are spent after the pandemic year. What could make a person want to stick with it?

Photo: Adrienne
Bresnahan/Getty Images

I occasionally remember my last campaign slogan with the grim recognition of an accidental hex. Let’s Do More! was plastered over the website and handouts for my small town, non-partisan city council reelection. Back then, in the time before the pandemic, global shutdown, and a downhill abdication of governmental responsibility for everything from public health to confronting generational, systemic racial injustice, Let’s Do More! seemed like smart branding. I like doing. Need a volunteer, I’m there.

Oh, how naïve I was. Plucky, cheerful. Eager for more, more, more.

Last year took so much, many local leaders have little to nothing…

Sarah Stankorb

Sarah Stankorb is a contributor to GEN. Other works in The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Glamour, O, and The Atlantic. @sarahstankorb www.sarahstankorb.com

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